Robin Kimbrough-Melton: Building Dreams

Robin Kimbrough-Melton, JD
Research Professor, Institute on Family & Neighborhood Life
Director, Building Dreams

Building Dreams is a program to provide support to children who have a parent in state or federal prison.

America is the global leader in incarceration; and SC has a very high rate of incarceration. We, historically, have ranked about 5th – 8th in the country. Even though we have a small population, we have a high rate of incarceration.

We know that kids who have a parent in prison have a tendency to have difficulty with school. We know that they often times are isolated within their community; we believe that in some instances without proper support they may follow their parents into prison. So there’s a need really to reach out.

We provide mentoring support to kids but we also find that often times when we’re working with kids and their families that we have to provide more comprehensive support and so we will refer kids to services, refer their families to services, provide counseling support and other kinds of specific needs that families have.

One of our clearest signs of success is a young woman who is a Clemson freshman this year and who has been in our program for about 3 ½ years; and has just done tremendously well. So much so that she’s the poster child for the federal government right now in terms of mentors and mentees.